So you’ve heard about this game called “paintball” and want to know a little more. Maybe you’ve been invited to a game and you are a little worried about getting hurt. Maybe you just want to know what to expect, how it works or how to extract the most fun out of it. We’ll take you through all of this. This is a summary of paintball basics.

Paintball is one of the fastest growing sports in South Africa and worldwide it has already been established as one of the biggest.

Variations of the game

Paintball fields are built either to host a quick variant of the game (called “Speedball”) or more of a natural, military simulation variant (called “Woodsball” or “Milsim”).

Speedball fields are generally scattered with inflatable cover called bunkers that are generally symmetrical so that both sides of the fields have exactly the same cover. The fields are flat and usually covered with grass. This makes for quick movement and short games. The biggest tournaments in the world are Speedball tournaments due to its controlled nature.

Woodsball on the other hand is generally more of a recreational variant although there are tournaments that for example recreate well known historic battles. The fields are generally in the bush or in a similar environment and there are no limits to what cover is to be used. These range from complete buildings to wooden pallets, car and truck tyres, ditches, decks, netting, trees and shrubs. You’ll never find two fields that look exactly the same – that is part of the appeal. Now that the paintball basics of the fields are covered, let’s look at the equipment.


Paintball guns are called “Markers” which recognises the origin of the game, as the original paintball guns were actually tools used to mark trees in the forestry industry. Nowadays, state-of-the-art markers costs R 40,000 or more. It’s come a long way …

Markers propel paint balls using compressed air or other stable gasses. Although some markers are able to propel balls at enormous speeds, the speed allowed at fields is always limited. This is applied to ensure the safety of the players. The speed of the paintball is measured in feet per second (“fps”) and the limit used at fields is usually 280 fps. Markers also have safety switches/devices that when activated prevents the marker from firing.

Paintballs themselves are small gel encapsulated balls containing a coloured substance. The entire ball is made of natural and bio-degradable substances. It does not harm the environment and therefore promotes a sustainable sport.

You will also be issued with protective clothing, a mask, a neck protector and a barrel sock. Protective clothing is not prescribed, but is highly recommended. A barrel sock is a physical barrier that fits onto/over the marker’s barrel – it is an added safety device that prevents a paintball exiting the marker barrel in case of accidental firing.

Safety first

The most important aspect of the game is safety. In fact, considering paintball basics, this part should put your mind at rest. The sport prides itself in keeping its participants safe at all times. Irrespective of where you play paintball, there will always be some key rules around safety and a Marshal, which accompanies each group, will enforce these. You are encouraged to ask questions to your Marshal as they are knowledgeable on the subject.

The first question new players always ask is: “Does it hurt?”. If you get hit on open soft skin by a paintball shot from a short distance, it could hurt. But this is the most extreme case. Practically however, you have no open soft skin exposed because you wear protective clothing and a mask. Furthermore, players are not allowed to shoot at an opponent that is close-by (5 meters). You will experience a lot of adrenalin during play and this in itself protects you from feeling the slight pain caused by paintballs hitting you. You’ll soon realise that it is not nearly as bad as you might expect.


In short, you will experience heaps of adrenaline, laughter, fun and excitement in a short space of time. Paintball is something great to do as a group of friends and even as a family unit. It makes for birthdays that kids talk about for a long time.

Although there are serious tournaments, as with all sport, most of the players do it for one thing: fun. Paintball does involve quite a bit of running and hiding but, it is not a marathon – you will get ample time to recover between games and drinking enough fluids certainly helps. It is extremely good exercise and definitely more fun than a treadmill (even with a television).

CryWolf is an entertainment operation on the Smuts Museum grounds in Centurion, Pretoria. We pride ourselves in the superior level of service we offer our to customers. It doesn’t hurt that we have the best designed paintball fields in South Africa and an attitude to serve. Click on the links to get more information on our paintball, paintball prices, paintball fields and paintball games.


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